As I have mentioned before, I am going through a process of discovering newer and newer details about my own condition(s), and as a result, I am learning how to better cope with life’s sometimes fair, but oftentimes unfair demands.
In this process, I notice similarities between what I experience and what others experience, therefore if I find anything worth considering for myself, I think it might be useful to share some of these thoughts, of course never as a substitute for professional help.
For many, many years, or better decades, a very distressing incident kept repeating itself, especially in crowded places like shopping centres and supermarkets, with all that cacophony of loud music (why’s that needed in the first place?), trollies, voices of people chaotically racing always too close to me, children’s tantrums, flood of artificial light and the subsonic vibration of industrial fridges. After a short while, I always noticed first some sort of mind-foggy confusion, when the shopping list became my only reality anchor, which rather shortly started to morph into a very uncomfortable anxiety, followed by an intense feeling of distress. Unfortunately, my family had to witness nearly every time, outbursts of anger for absolutely trivial “reasons”, which I -most of the time- blamed on my oftentimes crippling chronic lower-back condition. But, as I noticed sometimes, the lack of pain in my back, didn’t really change much. And because of the intensity of my distress, and the draining effort of coping without causing what from outside looked sometimes like a petty family argument, I never noticed WHY on very rare occasions, even with some back pains present, I could remain socially reasonable (it turns out it was always when we went shopping either very early, or very late, when the shops were nearly empty).
Since realising that I am living on the Autistic Spectrum, displaying nearly all the symptoms of Asperger’s, I started to consciously experiment strategies learned from specialized literature, but also from other Aspies.
One of these strategies was/is protection from Sensory Overload, especially its Audio aspect, my hidden foe.
A few good weeks ago, I started to look around for some good quality earplugs and ear defenders, and started using them (the pictures display my own protective devices).
And the miracle just happened!
It took some time with my earplugs, to learn the tricks of inserting them and taking them out, or adjusting the ear defenders to the -considerable- size of my head, but the miracle happened indeed: I can go shopping without the fear of another meltdown, without chasing my family out of the shop as soon as possible just to escape the audio nightmare, and without the soul scarring guilt of having done it, “again”. And interesting enough, the earplugs allow me to still hear voices and most of sounds, but without that horrendously painful “vibration” which my brain just can’t take…
One more thing I noticed, and that’s about mornings. I usually get up quite early, giving myself time to go through my precise little routines and rituals. I noticed though, that if any family member joined around, minding their own routines, it made me feel anxious and distressed. First I thought that I might be their interference with my established routes of routine, but for the past few days, I noticed that it may be something else. For some reason, I plugged my ears, and I noticed that the stress started to decrease. I took them out, and had a bit of conversation over the coffee with my wife, just to realize that some of the sounds of her lovely voice, acted like sledgehammers to my brain. I plugged my ears back, and the hammering stopped, even as we continued chatting. And I’m sure this wasn’t the first time in over twenty years of marriage, but it was the first “conscious” occurrence.
What I realized is that probably, early in the day, when the ears adapt from the quietness of rest to the sounds of a new day, there could be a period of transition when they are overly sensitive, especially in the case of individuals susceptible to Sensory Overload.
So, I don’t know how others might feel about it, but earplugs first thing in the morning seem to be working fine for me J
More to come about Sight, Touch, Smell and Taste…